Artistic and creative careers are among the most rewarding, but they also come with unique challenges. We asked some of the city’s best creatives to tell us why they choose to pursue a creative career.

Marian Fortunati | Artist – Learner

My long-time career of almost 40 years was as a teacher and principal in LAUSD. It was a very challenging but rewarding career. However as I contemplated retirement, I realized that I would need to find some other challenging and interesting vocation to help transition from a very demanding job to a time in life which would still be interesting and fulfilling. I began taking art classes. I am not sure why I chose that direction, but I have never been sorry I did.
Science had been my main focus in college and I had little art history and no technical classes. Read more>>

Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel | Composer Lyricist Team

We pursued this career because it felt like a way we could uplift others and bring joy into the world. With every song we write, we’re hoping it means something to someone out there. It’s our way of sharing our experiences and offering catharsis through inviting people to feel something through our music. We both also felt like no other path called to us as strongly as this one. When we met, there was such a likemindedness between us that we were going to set our minds to songwriting professionally, or bust! Read more>>

DP Jolly | Photographer

I understood the power of creativity at a very young age. Almost everything we come into contact with took some form of creativity to come into fruition. I also believe that most people make a lot of their decisions based on “creative” something is. Whether it’s children latch on to catchy tunes and bright colors or make buying decisions on certain product based on how it is presented to us or preferring one musical artist to another because on how they have crafted their sound–it all involves some level of creativity. Read more>>

Erin Jiang | Illustrator & Animator

Drawing was my best escape from reality my whole life, and I often preferred animated media over live-action. My family entertained my hobby as a child, but they were adamant that art could never be more than just a hobby. Years later, when it came time for me to choose a major in college, I found I didn’t have any real goal in life, and the only thing I could even possibly imagine for a career was something in art. So, against my parents’ wishes, I decided to study animation/illustration. At least they eventually warmed up to the idea of it. Now, as a college graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration, I’m ecstatic doing what I love for a living! Read more>>

Bo Yoon Ha | Filmmaker

I’ve always been very creative. It was a way for me to both understand and escape reality. As a kid, I would spend my days playing, writing, or drawing. It’s always been a very intuitive and natural process to create stories and worlds. bIn college, my research looked at how aid organizations in Uganda curated images of poverty and violence to sustain certain perceptions and dynamics. I began to see the power of images and its real life consequences. I wanted to challenge these stereotypes, so I started to make films with my Ugandan friends. This was the beginning of my film career. Read more>>

Chad Santo Tomas | Photographer & Filmmaker, Ambassador of Philippine Culture

My father is turning 86 this year and recently I’ve been thinking of the concept of ‘legacy’. I originally had a career and degree in neuroscience, which is creative in problem solving and theorizing. However, there’s something different about creating art or something meaningful that transcends your existence. I think an artistic career, or a career striving to be an artist is impactful in making things that help other individuals or businesses directly that live longer on the internet. And I think art provides an important holistic aspect to the human experience. Read more>> 

Oscar Bugarin | Recording Artist and Musician

I’ve always been an artist/creative of some sort, starting with guitar around 7/8 yrs old, having come from a family full of creatives, although most of them never called themselves that. It wasn’t until a few years into my military service that I realized I could reach my dreams and goals, that I left behind, with the right amount of discipline and a strong work ethic – my goals and aspiration weren’t so “lofty” anymore. I realized that it’s just part of who I am, and I should be creating daily, as much as I enjoyed being in the service and doing it for my family and country, I knew I should get out and get back into music. Read more>>

Nick Demarest | Chef

I knew early in my life that I could not be a suit and tie, nine to five, one week of vacation a year kind of worker. I knew my senior year in high school that I was going to be some kind of artist. I loved painting, sculpture, architecture, photography and of course cooking. I realized early on the power of leaving something behind after you are gone that others could still enjoy! While I do remember buildings, paintings etc., I think my best memories are of meals I have shared with my friends and family! To see people happy and laughing because of something you made is a wonderful experience. Read more>>

Lauryn Arciniega | Electroforming Artist, Business Owner & Content Creator

Crafting has always been a hobby for me, regardless of the creative outlet. Growing up, I was always finding different ways to creatively express myself, whether it was through makeup artistry, drawing, jewelry making, photography, you name it. As the years progressed, that fire in me never faded and it slowly started progressing into a business. If I’ll be quite honest, I never really intended for my creativity to be a career path. Years ago, I started a self growth journey that lead me down the path of spirituality and I discovered the power of crystals and crystal healing. Read more>>

lucio leonardi | Musician and composer

I started my artistic career 20 years ago, I had several groups from different musical backgrounds, PLUHM is my last way to express myself in the world, now making music for me is a matter of life, for me music is life, it is therapy, I could never do without it. Read more>>

Hanna Williamson | Actor, seamstress, and improviser.

Basically the moment I knew acting was a career I just knew that was my path. From elementary school even! I’m not sure I even have a moment where was inspired by my school play or was in my 4th grade Shakespeare club, I had never questioned it, it just felt right. As every actor knows, it can be so much more complex than, “I’ll be dirt poor mom and dad as long as I have my art I’ll be fine!!”; there are car payments and student loans and zoom classes to scrounge up money for. Read more>>

Larry Tuttle Composer and Musician | Composer of both concert and media music, performer on Chapman Stick, double bass and electric bass

Music is a calling. If you’re driven to create music, it’s difficult to do anything else. You always feel like you really should be composing or playing. If I didn’t do music, I’d feel like I had left my potential and purpose unfulfilled. Read more>>

Mikhail Gibson | Director Of Recruiting

I pursued my creative Career because it have been my outlet my whole life. I’ve played basketball at Glenville Highschool in Cleveland Ohio, this is Where all of the NFL top dawgs pipeline out of. Ted Ginn Jr, Donte Whitner, Frank Clark, Marshon Lattimore and the list goes on, coming from St.Clair and the Glenville neighborhood gave us a lot of motivation to see and do more. We were all we had, and we did everything as a unite Read more>>

Andrea ‘Slim’ Allmond | Sound Designer, Music Producer, Sound Engineer, Sound Healer, DJ

I pursued an artistic career specifically in music because music has always been a source of motivation and resilience during some of the toughest moments of my life. I wanted to be surrounded by it every day, but more importantly, I wanted to share the gift that music has given me with the others. The gift of not only therapy but of human connection through art. Read more>>

Tiersa Nureyev | Designer/Artist

I’ve always loved to be surrounded by beauty, and found particular pleasure in objects that had a story, excellent craftsmanship and that were made lovingly from thoughtful and beautiful materials. I was raised by a seamstress and opera singer so craft and artistry were the examples I was given about how one makes a living. Mainly I’ve just been following my intuition, and doing the things I find I have a natural inclination towards. The fact that there seems to be no end to artistic inspiration, and that I’ve yet to encounter a creative dry spell tells me I’m on the right track. Art is and has always been the lens that I can look through in order to understand the world, humanity and myself. Read more>>

Angela Wang | Designer and Founder

Let’s take this back over a decade ago, when I was an art major at Cal State Long Beach. I always loved art and had a passion for contemporary art and it’s aesthetic. I felt free to express anything I wanted with whatever medium I got my hands on. Then I decided I wanted to merge my passion for art with real life products — and that’s how I discovered Industrial Design. Read more>>

Skyler Cocco | Independent Artist, Producer & Songwriter

My passion for music began in the basement of my childhood home in New York. My late father was a NYC public school music teacher and a gigging bassist on the weekends. He kept a small music room in our basement with his instruments and an 8-track recorder to make music in his free time. Around age 11 I was trusted to use the equipment and began producing my own music. I had always written songs as a kid and was fascinated by the idea of producing music in a studio. I taught myself guitar, piano and bass and started producing music daily as a hobby. Read more>>

Robert Jon Burrison | Musician

I don’t think it was a conscious effort to pursue a career as a musician as much as it felt like what I was meant to do. From a young age I was always interested in creating things, wether it be on a piano all the way to pottery. I was enjoyed working with my hands and creating something. I was always creating. It wasn’t until high school that I was more interested in music and being in a band then anything else like sports or college for that matter. Read more>>

Peter Mahoney | DJ/Cat Parent

I’ve always been passionate about music, and it’s often led me to jobs that facilitated either enjoying it, or being able to play. I’d been DJing for a number of years before the pandemic, and with it we (My DJ partner, Hate Mior and I) opted to go online. We definitely didn’t seek it out, but people kept tuning in and we’ve grown our channel quite a bit in a short time! It’s funny that for all of the intent placed in prior efforts to focus my life around music and art, a seemingly silly decision has become a fulfilling career, but I’m into it! Read more>>

Dion Shepherd Jr | Though Leader & Author

I didn’t pursue a artistic or Creative career it pursued me. I just wanted to work as a pharmacist until I started working as a apprentice bounty hunter for Dog the Bounty Hunter Thanks to Jeff Kirkpatrick of Lodise Bailbonds. After filming with him for a few weeks something sparked in me. Then I started finding myself working on films in front of the camera and behind. I already had this creativity inside of me but I only scratched the surface and never jumped into it until working as a bounty hunter. Now I’m going face front into being an artist. I just finished writing my first book If you want Peace Prepare for War about my journey on A& E 60 Days In. Read more>>

Michal Kar | Photographer / Director

I always knew that I wanted to be some sort of a visual artist. When I was in high school, I’ve had an extreme flair for photo cameras. I found them as these beautiful mysterious devices. All the controls, rings, knobs, how the shutter opens and closes, etc. I liked to play with it when I was a child, even without loaded film, seemed like a ton of fun, just admiring the way it looked. I didn’t have even the basic notion of what an aperture was or shutter. I promised myself one day I’d have a camera “with all those rings”. Read more>> 

Andrew Arias | Photographer

The reason I’m in the artistic field is because it all fell into my lap, Growing up in Wilmington (WILMAS) i was exposed to all the different scenes Gangs, Graffiti, Lowrider’s, palm trees and the gritty streets. Being a young kid with no dream and really seeing and exploring everything made me want to document it all. It started with my flip phone to high school when I took photo class and upgraded to 35MM film ever since then it’s been a crazy journey in life. It allowed me to travel to new places, meet fellow artist’s who I can call my homies and real ass mothafuckas who never fake the funk when it comes to being a REAL artist. Read more>>

Travone Evans | Producer

Creativity is one of our most powerful tools in life. with creativity we can teach, we can learn, and we can make people feel! My whole life all I’ve ever wanted to do was entertain people. Life wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows growing up but my imagination kept me happy and going. I saw that I could use it to make others around me happy too. I almost went a different route but the creative arts kept calling my name and I went for it. Read more>>

Micah Amaro | Artist

I pursued a career in art because it’s something I always wanted to do when I was a kid. Watching my favorite cartoons on the weekend thinking, “I want to have my own cartoon!” It started out from just copying characters I would see on screen to creating illustrations of my own. Art is a great way to express ideas and personalities. I want to make art where people who usually aren’t represented in media can feel seen. Create stories that aren’t always told, or taking things that already exist and putting them in a different perspective. I hope that one day that when a child is looking at my art, in a gallery or on screen (fingers crossed) that they feel inspired just like I was. Read more>>

Jeremy Parker | Sensory Deprivation (Podcast)

I started my show “Sensory Deprivation” because I wanted to create a space for people that couldn’t sleep due to the constant wheels in motion of a mind that is suffering from mental illness, addiction, depression and past trauma. I wanted people to be able to put something on that gave them positive stories of self-reflection from other people that struggle themselves. I’ve been very fortunate to have this idea resonate with a variety of guests from differing backgrounds, because this is a topic that affect so many, whether it is up front or hidden. Musicians, artists and athletes all can relate to a time they felt that their world was spinning away from them, a time when they didn’t want to think of how much worse it could get. Especially in times such as we live in now, it was very important to me to convey a message a hope, of recovery and to tell people in as many voices possible, that life is beautiful and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Read more>>

RJ Solomon | Filmmaker & Songwriter

There was never a moment in my life when I felt I made the decision to pursue an artistic career. Art is just my way of processing the world without going completely insane. I think it’s that way for most artists. Most of my ideas for film or music just happen when I’m sad or nostalgic about something. It’s a way to reflect without having to go to therapy. I think that’s the honest truth. Read more>>

Karen Hall | Cellist, Educator and Occasional Clown

I ask myself this question on the regular! It’s printed in my fifth grade yearbook that I wanted to be a musician when I grew up. I think I’ve achieved that goal but the lines of “creative career” blur a lot. The dictionary defines a career as “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress”. I’ve been playing and teaching cello for my income for over 20 years now, which is a significant period of my life, but I often wrestle with the feelings of being a “has-been” over my prior successes and wondering where the new challenges and opportunities for progress lie or how to get to them. Read more>>

Grayson Ellis, Rae Cunningham | Musicians, Queer Pop/Punk Duo – “TWINFLAME”

Growing up queer, trying to find representation in the art forms we loved often felt like an endless and impossible search. Not feeling represented in mainstream media made it much harder to come to terms with ourselves, or feel understood at all. We live in a society where a huge part of our identity is seen as not normal. While we are seeing a rise queerness in music, TV, film, etc, we want to be the rockstars that we needed while growing up. The power comes not from “gay songs”, but from artists who are unafraid to be themselves.
People are craving artists that provide them with music that not only makes it okay to be an outcast, but to help them celebrate that nothing about any of us is “wrong”. Read more>>

Danilo Amuedo | Music Producer and Touring Musician

Music came into my life in an organic way. My father is a musician and since I was born he has always kept me in the musical universe. My connection with percussion was always different. At a very young age, he felt that my way of expression through music would be playing percussion. So, in 98 during Christmas celebration, my dad gave me my first drum set. I was 4 years old Read more>>

Vasti Varela | Creative Director/Owner

Ever since I was a little girl art has been a magnetic attraction of my attention. The use of the different mediums and materials sparked my interest daily and conceived a passion for creating. As I carried that passion into my adult life, I explored with different careers in search for what I would consider ” my calling”. How could I best use my God given gifts? The pursuit of that answered has lead me to where I am today. Read more>>


It’s hard to say that I chose a creative career, but more like it chose me. Ever since I was a little girl, I would make movies with my dad and make the kids in my neighborhood be my actors. When I grew up, and it was time to choose a major for college I actually picked business! I thought it was more logical and a good back up plan. But when I had to take the prereq classes, like economics and calculus, I was struggling. I have to work twice, if not triple times as hard to retain the formulas. Doing a test, I actually would come up with creative ways to get the answer by creating my own makeshift formula and that’s the only way I could pass! So then I did a brain test, and I learned I lead with my right brain. So why fight against what is not so natural for me? I’m right brain dominant, which means I’m more creative. So I changed my major to filmmaking and the rest is history! Read more>>

Charlie Bellarose | Filmmaker & Graphic Artist

I’ve always been drawn to the arts whether it’s painting, drawing, graphic design, writing, acting or videography. I showed creative promise at a very young age. I had a wild imagination as kid. I would constantly come up with stories and write out comedic skits that I would perform for my family. I was quite the showman. In college I ended up studying creative writing and visual arts because I had a natural affinity for it. I’ve always had such a passion for storytelling, so when I moved out to Los Angeles a couple years ago, I decided to start my own production company, Hollywounded Productions, which allows me to combine my love of writing and cinematography. Read more>>

Arturo Macias Sanchez | Musician

Since I was young, I’ve always been fascinated with music. I’ve always wondered what it took to create the songs I would hear on the radio, I’d sit and try to find each instrument that was in a song. The fascination structure realizing how every instrument put together could create such amazing sounds, made me want to learn more. I went on to study music, but I didn’t stop there I decided to open up my own business/ Label ; “ Kanashii L.L.C” . It will allow me to be around music all the time and also help break into the music industry. And keep on growing my love for the art. Read more>>

Sam Chatham | Designer & Illustrator

Ever since I was a little kid I loved to draw letters and doodle on napkins or really whatever was available, even the ground. There was always something in the back of my head telling me that drawing would lead my career choices. To support my artistic career I’ve taken jobs at construction sites and as a computer repair tech. What I learned from these seemingly odd jobs was this analytical and hands on approach to problem solving and creation; it has served me well. Read more>>

Sintoria | Musician/Recording Artist

I have philanthropic work that I aspire to accomplish, and without a platform it’s nearly impossible. I want to become a black female mogul and use my platform to quite literally save the world. Read more>>

Daniela Espinosa | Director and Cinematographer

Since I was a child, I have been always interested in art in some shape of form. However, I truly believe that every single person has an artistic aspect of any kind. For me, I always found interesting the visual language and the information that a single image carries within itself. Filmmaking is all about language and communication, not only through dialogue by through sound and image. I find this very fascinating and challenging, having the capability to create an image that can say more than 100 words. Read more>>

Lex Andretti | Multifaceted Artist

I didn’t choose this life it chose me. When I was young, I always was clouded by my creative thoughts. I’m the type of person that trusts my intuition and even though my parents saw my life going a more professional route, I recognized my worth and decided to be a freelancer. I decided to pursue a creative career because I knew I’d be miserable doing anything else. My brain runs 300mph. I don’t believe in backup plans, I feel if there was a Plan B, I’d fail Plan A. Read more>>

Peyton Fleming | Actor, Writer, Comedian

For me, it was a no brainer. All my life I’ve loved storytelling. I remember one instance when I was in first grade, I wrote a story during recess. My teacher found it and snatched it from me and I thought I was in big trouble. But then, later in the day, she read the story aloud to the class and applauded me for my creativity and it encouraged the rest of the class to write their own stories. We had reading material for story time for weeks! I remember what a sense of joy that gave me, knowing that I had helped spark and bring forth creativity in others, and allowed them to share their stories as well. And after deciding that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life, that feeling love and joy has only deepened over time Read more>>

Thomas Carroll | Freelance Illustrator

There wasn’t any way around it! I’ve loved drawing for as long as I can remember, and the chance to actually do that as a career seems too good to be true. It’s not an easy field to break into, but the end goal seems worth the stress. Read more>>

RNA Designs | Heat Transfer Vinyl Artists

A song, a painting, a poem; these are all forms of expressions describing one’s internal state of being. Artistry can convey happiness, sadness, and contentment. We chose a creative career (more of a side hustle) so we can help others express themselves and breathe life into their unique designs. Our favorite part of the whole process is watching our customers’ excitement as they rummage through their order package, anxiously anticipating how their design will feel in hands compared to an image they’ve seen or designed on their screen. We assure you that every smile and praise we receive is the energy that fuels and keeps RNA designs going. Read more>>